Pacific Media Watch

10 April 2014

WEST PAPUA: Indonesian militias stage 'bloody' response to peaceful boycott call

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West Papuan activists raise the Morning Star flag on the border with Papua New Guinea before a shootout with the Indonesian military Image: Tabloid Jubi

JAYAPURA (Pacific Media Watch / The Jakarta Post / West Papua Daily / Radio New Zealand International): The Indonesian military and police have embarked on a "bloody surge of violence" in response to the peaceful boycott of the parliamentary elections called by the Free West Papua Campaign, claim advocates.

Indonesia's parliamentary elections were held on Wednesday, and the presidential elections will be held on 9 July 2014.

The Free West Papua Campaign says that no matter who wins, the Indonesian military occupation of West Papua will continue. They called for a peaceful boycott of the elections.

But this week, Tersisius Gebze, the vice-chairman of the West Papua National Committee [KNPB] in Payum, Merauke was "brutally attacked and tortured along with many other KNPB members by a mob of suspected pro-Indonesian "Red and White" militia of the same kind as were involved in atrocities in East Timor".

According to the campaign, the Indonesian militia chanted during the attack "these houses are owned by people who are pro-independence so they must be destroyed!"

The campaign said that there had been a "bloody surge of violence against the indigenous Papuans in the last few weeks which we believe to be orchestrated by the Indonesian military and intelligence".

Four West Papuans were murdered, 12 more tortured and left with horrific wounds, another five West Papuan youth stabbed with bayonets by the Indonesian police and the gravesite of former West Papuan freedom fighter Mako Tabuni burned down, said the campaign.

'Making noise'
Stanley Iko from the Free West Papua Campaign told Radio New Zealand International today that the United Nations must help West Papua's people.

"The United Nations is going to come in and help the West Papuans. You know, everywhere in the world if there are gunshots or a massacre or somebody has been murdered, around the world people get up from their seats and jump up and down and you know, start making a lot of noise. In West Papua, nothing. Nothing of that sort. The reason why they hoisted the UN flag is because they want them to come in now and have a look at their case of West Papua" Iko said.

The biggest opposition party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) had an unofficial lead in the parliamentary elections held on Wednesday.

Jakarta Governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle’s (PDI-P) presidential candidate, has previously said he would end the ban on international journalists visiting Papua if he became president.

Presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto of the Gerindra Party and Jokowi's main opponent told The Jakarta Post yesterday that if he wins the Indonesian presidential election on 9 July 2014, he too would allow international journalists into Papua.

"There is no reason foreign journalists should be banned from Papua if there are no existing laws that support it," Prabowo said.

However, neither candidate has ever said that they would free West Papua from Indonesian rule.

Widodo visited West Papua last week and stopped well short of promising indigenous West Papuans freedom, saying instead: “I understand that Papua’s problems should be solved with heart, with real work. I’m not going to promise you too many things, but Papua’s resources should be used for Papuans’ own well-being".

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Pacific Media Watch

PMC's media monitoring service

Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators. (cc) Creative Commons